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Is Germany next on the list?
September 23, 2002 9:48 PM   Subscribe

Is Germany next on the list? Well, no, but the way the Bush administration approaches diplomacy needs some work. Is a war in Iraq worth "poisoning" America's relationship with the international community?
posted by elwoodwiles (30 comments total)

 
When German officials compare our President to Hitler and run on an anti-American platform, it's not our diplocacy that needs work.
posted by oissubke at 9:51 PM on September 23, 2002


When German officials compare our President to Hitler and run on an anti-American platform, it's not our diplocacy that needs work.

What diplomacy?

And if the shoe fits, wear with lederhosen...
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:01 PM on September 23, 2002


While I'd agree that Bush's handling of world opinion has been a little insensitive, comparing him to Hitler is, for lack of a better description, fucking stupid.

Your post makes it sound like this was a PR miscue made by the White House when, in fact, it was a trollish comment made by a German politician. The UN may not agree with Bush wanting to invade Iraq, but the fact remains that he hasn't and both he and Blair are trying to rustle up some support from the UN before going in.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:08 PM on September 23, 2002


The funny thing about the whole thing is that both Bush and Schroeder are to some extent using the Iraq thing as a tool for their election prospects. Schroeder much moreso than Bush...
posted by chaz at 10:14 PM on September 23, 2002


I find the comparisons between the US government (and indeed, any modern democratic republic) and Nazi Germany to be not only specious and lazy, but highly offensive. It's a high-school debate tactic and mentality. If this is the best you (or the "international community") can do, I'm glad you're not on board. We don't need the extra task of babysitting while we attend to more important matters.

Hopefully the ridiculous and outrageous sentiments expressed by German (ex) Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmeli, as well as Schroeder's flirting with the fringes of anti-Americanism, are in the minority.

And thanks for Godwinizing this thread from the get-go, foldy. That comment is pretty lazy, especially for you. Are you losing your touch?
posted by evanizer at 10:19 PM on September 23, 2002


Anybody out there really think Bush is using the Iraq thing to help with the upcoming elections? I personally don't think he ever gave it much thought. I'm sure somebody might have mentioned it in passing but its probably in the back of most of the administrations head (not the elections but using the Iraq situation to help with elections). A person is smart and people are dumb, but the American people are not that dumb (/me crosses fingers).
posted by Ron at 10:28 PM on September 23, 2002


Hopefully the ridiculous and outrageous sentiments expressed by German (ex) Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmeli, as well as Schroeder's flirting with the fringes of anti-Americanism, are in the minority.

Actually, I think that it was Schroeder's embrace of "anti-Americanism" --to the extent that you could call his opposition to war with Iraq "anti-American"--that won him the election. Not surprising, considering how much the contemporary German conscience values pacifism.

Anybody out there really think Bush is using the Iraq thing to help with the upcoming elections? I personally don't think he ever gave it much thought.

You think there might be something that Bush didn't give much thought?


Sorry. I'll skip the joke.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:39 PM on September 23, 2002


*Hears dueling banjos in background*
posted by Ron at 10:51 PM on September 23, 2002


The official claims she made no such comparison, and in light of the complete lack of any real evidence otherwise (other than hearsay AFAIK), we more or less have to believe that she did not and that her dismissal from the cabinet was a move on the Chancellor's part to distance himself from such attitudes. Also, I'm sure the Godwinesque flavor to it played no small part (I don't want anybody that prone to stupid generalization in my cabinet, etc.). Innocent until proven guilty, people - I thought we all believed in such a thing, yes? Just because the most recent American perception is that all Germans are American-haters (thank you very much the last week of our popular media), and that this reported comment conveniently (perhaps too conviently) confirms our national suspicions does not make it so. It is also worth pointing out the chicken vs. the egg nature of this whole hullabaloo.

Beyond that, American soldiers died so that the German people would have the right to choose as they wish. They do not wish war on Iraq. That is a freedom both American blood *and* German blood post-WW2 were spilled in order to defend and the US administration's current actions are a childish affront to this fact, those soldier's lives, and our own supposed principles. Germany isn't flirting with anti-Americanism, they are exercising American principles.

And you, evanizer, are acting in an anti-democratic fashion for so labeling anything that you don't agree with.
posted by Ryvar at 11:05 PM on September 23, 2002


What's this "international community" you speak of? A euphemism for "European leftists", per chance?
posted by dagny at 11:21 PM on September 23, 2002


The last time GWB got in a snit he dissed Jim Jeffords by refusing to invite him to the White House when one of Jefford's constituents was given an award for teacher of the year. Look what that cost him.

Now he tries the same tactic with Schroeder by refusing to call him after his election victory. The arrogance and pettiness of these Bushies will be their downfall yet.
posted by JackFlash at 11:34 PM on September 23, 2002


Anybody out there really think Bush is using the Iraq thing to help with the upcoming elections?

are you serious ron? The correlation between winning a war and votes is on page one of 'Elections for Dummies'. Margaret Thatcher famously won the 1983 election in the UK riding on the back of victory in the Falklands War. Of course you must make sure you win or you are screwed.

on topic: I wouldn't be suprised to see an underplayed Schroeder u-turn on Iraq in around a months time after 'alarming and incontrovertible' new evidence has been brought to his attention.
posted by gravelshoes at 11:55 PM on September 23, 2002


So now if you oppose invading Iraqi you are anti-American? - when did that happen? - reminds me of a little something I read...

"It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."


Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering
posted by keno at 12:11 AM on September 24, 2002


if opposing bush is anti-americanism then many of the metafilter members are anti-americans.
posted by arf at 1:30 AM on September 24, 2002


and run on an anti-American platform

provide an example with actual link? please?
there's no denying that Social Democrats have played a very smart game using public opposition to the Bush War Policy, but "anti-American"? It makes Joschka Fischer look like Osama Bin Laden, which is not the case, really.
The Justice minister (who by the way got fired for it) for Godwinesque, outrageous and unexcusable, especially coming from a German. But, you know, the tone of the campaign wasn't really like that.
Or, you could invade Germany also -- I bet Ann Coulter agrees.

evan, you know, now I think that you must have a personal problem with foldy. he's been trolling less and less, but you keep kicking him in the teeth.
Foldy's not going to be banned. Live with it.
There's no killfile option here, just ignore him if he makes you so mad
posted by matteo at 3:19 AM on September 24, 2002


I'm German and I'm quite amazed to see Schröder's policies being labeled as anti-American in the media (in Germany, the US and elsewhere). His statements opposed the War against Iraq in clear terms but nowhere did he (not the Godwinian nut) attack president Bush, the American people or America in a wider sense. By this standard America is reduced to being a single policy. Does disagreement over one policy necessary means opposing the other party wholeheartedly? No, of course not.

For those who believe there is such thing as popular anti-Americanism in this country, I ask you: where is the flag-burning and presidential puppet burning hysteria, the loud and aggressive mobs in front of the US Embassy and military installations? Where are the "yanks go home" and "America is evil" protest? Where are the name-calling articles against the US? Where are the "The US deserved 911: yes to 70%" polls? Look for this stuff in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and other stalwart Mid-East allies of the US. And why do these guys get so much praise and support?
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 4:10 AM on September 24, 2002


ugly_n_sticky: You want the honest truth? Because many Americans think all Arabs are terrorist camel-riders and think of our Middle East allies (to the extent it can be said they think - let alone of such things) as a pleasant surprise. Savages that have clearly shown potential to become civilized.

[sarcasm]Now when a civilized nation like Germany criticizes America or its policies in any way . . . well . . . how - how dare they? Those snobby stuck-up European fops who have [dangerous irony]never seen any terrorism or anything really dangerous![/dangerous irony] Fuckin' ivory-tower Euros so out of touch with how the real world works![/sarcasm]

In short, it's because many Americans think of Arabs as barely above primates, but when their peers criticize them - holy crap does that hurt! The racism/cultural superiority complex isn't overt, nor spoken, but it is there.
posted by Ryvar at 4:36 AM on September 24, 2002


The official claims she made no such comparison, and in light of the complete lack of any real evidence otherwise (other than hearsay AFAIK), we more or less have to believe that she did not.

I think she did say what she's quoted as saying (her name is Herta Daubler-Gmelin, by the way), and maybe I'm way off base here but I don't think that the actual quote is very explosive:

"Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler also used."

NYT Link - the actual name of the newspaper she was quoted in is the Schwabisches Tagblatt - I don't read German, but I'd be interested to see the original quote if anyone here does.

Its not like she said "Bush is the next Hitler" or "Bush advocates genocide" or "Bush hates Jews" or even "Bush is an unstable madman who believes strongly in the occult", despite what the US sound-bite media would have middle America believe.

So the question becomes, is it true? Well, yes its true that Hitler used war to divert attention from his domestic problems. Many others have done the same over time (glances over at her beloved Great Britain coyly). I think its also true that many in the US believe that Bush is using the drums of war as a way to somehow divert the US people from their domestic problems. (Nasdaq Closes at Six-Year Low) If Bush were a truly good-spirited, diplomatically minded man, he would have responded with something like "Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, its clear that her comments have been blown out of proportion, and Germany remains a close friend of the US". Instead we get shrill shrieking and bluster from Bush and his Chickenhawks. Maybe its just me, but I have to wonder if their outrage is because she hit the nail squarely on the head....
posted by anastasiav at 5:32 AM on September 24, 2002


Anastasiav, the translation is correct. The German paper claimed that she said "Bush will von seinen innenpolitischen Schwierigkeiten ablenken. Das ist eine beliebte Methode. Das hat auch Hitler schon gemacht."
posted by arf at 5:43 AM on September 24, 2002


And why do these guys get so much praise and support?

Pakistan: they got nukes
Egypt: essential ally in the region, gets shitload of US money (not as much as Israel of course but still)
Saudi Arabia: all that oil
posted by matteo at 9:04 AM on September 24, 2002


I find the comparisons between the US government . . . and Nazi Germany to be not only specious and lazy, but highly offensive. It's a high-school debate tactic and mentality.

Whereas unilaterally proclaiming certain nations to be members of a heavily-skewed rhetorical device (sc. 'Axis of Evil') and appelling 'Evildoer' to your enemies is the height of learned discourse. I'm not saying Herta is right or George is wrong here, just asking for some evaluative consistency...

Damn that lure looked tasty.


posted by Fezboy! at 9:26 AM on September 24, 2002


Calling a thing by its name is the height of consistency, Fezboy. Iraq is an evil country, and it needs a regime change.
posted by BubbaDude at 10:43 AM on September 24, 2002


And there are more odious regimes than Ba'ath out there, BubbaDude, none of whom I'd consider evil. The point of my post being that 'evil' carries connotations far outside the realm of international political discourse. There is adequate vocabulary in place for describing regimes such as the Ba'ath party in Iraq without resorting to high-school debate tactics and mentality. If evanizer demands level-headed rhetoric from the nation states of this world, then I would think this applies to the US as well.

My point was not, and I did try to articulate this, to defend the Ba'ath regime, Herta's comment, or George's characterization but to ask everyone to step back from the rhetorical crack pipe.


posted by Fezboy! at 11:40 AM on September 24, 2002


I posted this because I think it shows W's approach to diplomacy. His "you are with us or against us" oversimplification has actually become US policy. I can't figure out how this administration expects to gain a coalition for a war only he wants by insulting and alienating some of our closest allies and bullying the UN. I believe the CIA term for what is about to happen is "blowback." European countries have a way off thumbing their collective noses at the US and Bush is just giving them more ammo. Bush's attempts at diplomacy are cynical, ineffective and ultimately bad for American power overseas.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:44 PM on September 24, 2002


Wow. Just got back after 3 weeks in Germany, and things do get mightily distorted by the time they are digested in the US. I watched the entire press conference with Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, and there is no accurate direct quote of her comments because there was no tape recorder present, just one single journalist that she didn't know about. She claims it was a heated discussion with much back and forth, and that the name 'Hitler' wasn't mentioned until she realized that an earlier remark of hers about Bush's tactics being well known from German history could be dangerously misunderstood. Somebody shook their head, and she says she tried to precisely avoid this sort of thing and said, "I did not mean to compare Bush to Hitler, that's not what I said and it is not what I meant." One local journalist took down a "quote," and a week later she's out of office. To my mind, even if she did draw or imply a historical parallel regarding the use of wars to distract from internal problems, I don't see the issue here. In no way is she a "Goodwin Nut."

As for "Schroeder's flirting with the fringes of anti-Americanism" -- that's ridiculous. He made a carefully differentiated statement that clearly identified the US as a friend and partner of Germany, as is evidenced by German engagement in Afghanistan and ongoing support for the war on terror. But Schroeder also stated clearly that Germany would not have a part in a preemptive war, which is illegal by German and international law. That is neither anti-American, nor is there a fringe involved: not a single person I spoke to in the last three weeks in Europe supported such an adventure. The arrogance evidenced in Washington now speaks volumes about the Bush administration's capacity for handling dissent. What kind of partnership is it where you're only allowed to agree?
posted by muckster at 4:07 PM on September 24, 2002


The UN may not agree with Bush wanting to invade Iraq...

Let me get this straight. You respect the opinion of a body whose majority is composed of countries without democratic rule, fascists and dictators, et al. wt should I respect the will of such an organization?

As for Germany, I'll give them a pass. I think Nazi Germany is too recent a recent an event for the Germans to favor a war, even a needed one. German politics is still the politics of trauma. They err on the side of pacifism, which is understandable. Give'm another 25 years before you get on their case.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:41 PM on September 24, 2002


Good points, ParisParamus; any country where the Greens get close to 10% of the vote is clearly not to be taken seriously.
posted by BubbaDude at 11:37 PM on September 24, 2002


Oh. That must be the end of the conversation, then.
posted by muckster at 6:48 AM on September 25, 2002


I've just seen this on Reuters:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld walked out of a NATO meeting in Warsaw on Tuesday
night, minutes before his German counterpart was due to speak.
Was it a snub, the latest parry in the sparring between
Washington and Berlin over German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's
election campaign rhetoric opposing U.S. Iraq policy?
"No, I did not intentionally snub anybody. That's not my
way," Rumsfeld told a news conference on Wednesday at the end of
the two-day meeting of alliance defence ministers.
But he couldn't resist a swipe when asked what steps Berlin
could take to mend relations between the NATO allies.
"It's not for me to give advice to other countries,"
Rumsfeld said.
He left a long pause and then added: "We do have a saying in
America: if you're in a hole, stop digging."
Another pause.
"Erm, I'm not sure I should have said that," he said, almost
giggling. "Let's pretend I never said that."

posted by Summer at 7:52 AM on September 25, 2002


The same sorts of alliances are forming now that formed during WW II - America, England, Russia, and the Jews on one side, Germany and the Arabs on the other.

The more things change, etc.
posted by BubbaDude at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2002


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